Most gym regulars love counting their sets and reps like their lives depend on it, but what they do with their time in between usually remains vague. The amount of rest taken between sets does actually have a big influence on training effectivity, so you better be counting with a purpose. As to how much time you should take for optimal results, there are - as always - many opinions. Unfortunately many of those opinions are based on little more than gut feel, so it's time to shed some light on the matter.
The strict Ring Muscle Up (sRMU) is a highly advanced and challenging upper body exercise that builds tremendous upper body strength, shoulder stability and positional coordination. Enough reasons to start doing it! Unfortunately it can seem daunting to get into this movement when you're not yet able to perform your first rep, so I have written this step-by-step guide to help you on your way of performing your first sRMU.
If one question pops up a lot in any trainer’s week, it is: ‘what is the best exercise for X or Y?’. The well-intended answer often involves lists of so called superior exercises, backed by arguments of electrical muscle activity or ability to improve posture. Although this may help point some in the direction of sound exercise selection, reality is a lot more nuanced. Of course some movements offer more diffuse benefits and others have a poorer risk versus reward ratio, but it is often a matter of context. Good or bad exercises don't really exist. Allow me to explain.
I’m glad to have not been injured much during my athletic life. Especially during the powerlifting days I never really sustained anything more serious than the occasional pulled muscle. While this gave me an advantage of being able to train hard and often, it also made for a very forgiving approach to training. If technique looked good and nothing hurt, the weight went up. That simple. The only problem is that while specializing in certain movements will surely lead to great performance, it also means that many other joint functions will be neglected - and this more than often leads to injury.
Some of us probably do it on a regular basis: schedule a quick but serious gym session in the weekend just hours before hitting the club. And somebody might have told you that your whole work-out will have been for nothing if you consume alcohol in the hours after your work-out. But is there any truth in that?
It wasn’t until a few years into my own little weightlifting adventures that I was first exposed to the use of elastic bands for strength training. Back then they were pretty much exclusively used by diehard powerlifters who would hook them up to their barbells, but like with any gym tool the tide eventually turned to fashion. Most gyms now have at least a few sets of bands hanging around, but unfortunately they are rarely used for more than a half-assed hamstring stretch. I personally think that things don't really become interesting until you start attaching these bands to barbells, so allow me to explain the why and when.
Today's program called for high rep back extensions with quite a bit of additional weight. 'Fuck, this sucks' echoed through my mind as I was sitting on the floor after completing the third set, while waiting for my blood pressure to settle. Unfortunately I had already scribbled down a fourth set in my log, so there was no turning back. Time for another 50 reps. Of course this killed me even further, and hit me right in the why am I even here feels. Later on I started to think about why I was willing to do that last gruesome set, and why this matters. I like to call this willingness the training X-factor, for its ability to give your results just that little bit of extra punch.
There has been a massive paradigm shift in the fitness industry over the past decade or so. An industry that used to be all hearsay was in desperate need of substantiation, which gave way to the evidence based movement. And for the good. It was about time that some of those stubborn old dogmas were laid to rest. However, the desire to support training theory with science has been increasing ever since, which has sprouted hordes of fitness enthusiasts who are now obsessed with measurement. What started as an evidence based movement is slowly starting to look more like an evidence based cult. And the question is: is this helping or hurting us?
Discussions about gym gear usually strike me as little more than majoring in the minors. Performance benefits are often negligible, and therefore barely worth the attention. However, when considering footwear, we all need to purchase shoes at some point - so we might as well make sure that we get the right ones. Especially because our choice of footwear in the gym may interfere with performance and increase risk of injury. In today's article I will explain why this is so, and provide you with a checklist for making sure that you are training in the right pair of shoes.
When I first started lifting weights back in 2004, supersets were considered a density method to be used sparingly. Most training done by either performance or aesthetic athletes largely consisted of doing separate exercises with ample rest in between. It’s also how I built most of my own strength and muscle later on. Fast forward to 2019, everyone seems to be running back and forth from station to station. Supersets and circuits are the new norm. While there is something to be said for this type of training, it may also hurt your progress. Allow me to explain.
You might have already heard of it, or perhaps seen someone in the gym doing it. Occluding their arm or leg with wraps before exercising with a (apparently) low weight. But despite the low weight, it seems as though the gym beast quickly reaches muscular failure. How? Well, this type of training is called Blood Flow Restriction, or KAATSU training. But is it really that effective in increasing muscle mass and strength?
In my last article I discussed what are main causes of low back pain, how to find your personal trigger and what can be done to (temporarily) take away your pain. Once you’ve found your pain trigger and positions of relief, it’s time for the next step: building up your back. A widespread misbelief regarding this very subject is that the core needs more strength. And every ‘professional’ has his or her favorite exercise for providing this. In this article I will debunk this core-strength myth, and provide you with a better method to build up the core muscles.
Last month I wrote an article in which I explained the concept of sticking points in the bench press, and what exercises work best for improving on them. Since then I've gotten quite some requests to break down some more major lifts, so I've decided to go ahead and come up with another instalment. This week's problem child to be slapped into submission: the deadlift. In this article I will discuss how to identify your weak points within this lift, and provide you with a range of exercises to effectively improve upon them.
Over the last 13 years I’ve been struggling with low back pain (LBP), which lead to seeing many (so called) professionals. Sports doctor, physio-, manual- and remedial therapists, personal trainers, sports masseurs and specialized low back pain centers. In most of the initial visits, some individual tests were done. But after the intake, a one-size-fits-all program was prescribed as the solution. Looking around and seeing how many people, including myself, still have pain in their backs, I kept on searching for more individualized programs. For such an approach it is important to first have a look at what the spine can do, to then be able to understand the mechanism of injury.
In order to get better at something we need to practice. It’s how we develop as kids, and it still holds true when building our bodies some decades later. Practice is the backbone of any successful training program. However, as I’ve written before, there is a turning point where continuously doing the same thing stops working. So how do you know where the tipping point is? The answer is simple: when it stops working. While tracking your performance should make this an easy task in theory, some confounding factors are unfortunately at play. In this article I will discuss three of them: level of expertise, relative intensity, and fatigue, and follow them up with strategies to make them work in your favor.